On the New Letter of Yaroshenko

(10th January 1953)

I.V. Stalin


The subordination of the relations of production to the forces of production was a persistent strand of thinking in the Soviet Union. Most pronounced in this understanding was the work of A.A. Bogdanov in his writings on Tektology. Bukharin was profoundly influenced by his ideas. In the context of socialist industrialisation, the development of directive centralised planning and the construction of the collective farms of the poor and middle peasantry the Soviet leadership found it imperative to come to terms with right wing philosophy and political economy whose proponents bitterly fought against the construction of socialism. The Bogdanov-Bukharinist trend was temporarily defeated in the 1930s.

But after the economic discussions in November 1951 on the draft political economy textbook, Stalin pointed out that Yaroshenko followed the notions of Bogdanov and Bukharin in downplaying the role of the relations of production. This was particularly troublesome when the party was tackling the questions related to the transition to communism. The critique of the Yaroshenko ideological tendency is evident in Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR.

The notions of Yaroshenko were to be revived after March, 1953. The initial freezing of the relations of production of Soviet society, the end of the programme for the transition to communist society, the rapid introduction of market relations, involving the commodification of the instruments and means of production, are all evidence of this.

Yaroshenko was brought in by Khrushchev to play a role in the 20th Congress of the CPSU though this in itself was not a crucial question. More important was the all-pervasive dissemination of the views of Yaroshenko in the CPSU and the Soviet state. It is no exaggeration to say that Yaroshenkoism and with it Bogdanovism and Bukharinism replaced Marxism-Leninism as the dominant ideology of the CPSU and the Soviet Union. The elimination of the advance of social relations in the Soviet Union in the spirit of Yaroshenko are evident in the speeches of Khrushchev, Brezhnev and the other leaders until the end of the Soviet state. The views of Yaroshenko also stand at the centre of the contemporary communist movement in Russia.

Khrushchev gave his active support to the Yaroshenko ideology as did Mao in his work on political economy, Critique of Soviet Economics. Mao and Khrushchev as is known opposed the views of Stalin which were hostile to the commodification of the instruments and means of production as advocated by Notkin, Venzher and Sanina. The concurrence of Khrushchev and Mao on the creation of a market economy is evident. After March 1953 moreover the CPC balked at converting the democratic dictatorship established in 1949 to the dictatorship of the proletariat in People’s China, and in terms of social relations it incorporated the former kulaks, the former landlords into the rural people’s communes and the national bourgeoisie in the urban people’s communes. It is instructive to note that the people’s communes were not founded upon social property but in fact retained the form of group property which contained the former social property of the Machine Tractor Stations in addition to the private property of the middle bourgeoisie. Mao went back on his commitment in People’s Democratic Dictatorship to nationalise the properties of the national bourgeoisie. The criticism of Stalin by Mao and his support for the ideology of Yaroshenko had this as its context.

Yaroshenko survived the fall of the Soviet Union and continued to hold on to his views.

The document below reveals some details of the struggle against the views of Yaroshenko after the publication of Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR.

Vijay Singh

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